‘Active’ books for ADHD

One of my kids has ADHD. I remember talking to him about reading and he commented that, while he liked the books, he didn’t like sitting still to read as his body and brain needed to move. I’m AuDHD and, while I can’t completely relate, I understand what he’s saying.

I have reflected on this quite a bit and found that what I call ‘active’ books are great for those with ADHD as they aren’t sitting still the whole time.

When I talk about an active book, these are books that invite you to do more than sit and read.

Touch & Feel and Lift the Flap books

For younger kids, picture books that have a touch and feel element as well as lifting the flap gives the child something to do while they are listening to the story. They can touch the pages to feel the different textures and lift the flap to reveal a new element of the story. They are able to engage in the story as more than something to sit and listen to quietly, waiting to turn the page.

Choose Your Own Adventure Books

As kids get older and start reading on their own, Choose Your Own Adventure style books are great. I loved these as a kid. If you haven’t heard of these books, you read a page, then have options on how the story goes. You turn to that page, read some more, then have another option. Every time you go through, you can make different choices and end up with a different ending! These are active as each section is a short read before finding the next option. You are also going backwards as well as forwards in the book. The short sections also suit those with shorter attention spans.


Audiobooks are still books. Playing audiobooks while doing other things means that you’re still experiencing the story. You may not be looking at the words (though you can always get the text version in print or ebook and follow along if you want to), but you still hear the story and experience how it’s told. I love listening to audiobooks while driving, my kids used to listen to them to go to sleep. I also play them while doing housework.

Non-Fiction Books

When my kids were small, they loved the books that featured items they could point to and identify while we read the words. As they got older, one of my kids loved the maths books by Adam Spencer that had some facts then an activity. One of my nephews loves books that contain instructions on making things along with the theories behind them. When looking at non-fiction books, find books based on the interest of the reader as this will be more engaging than a non-fiction book that isn’t related to an area of interest.

How to & Cook books

Books that teach how to do something, including cook books, may not be what everyone thinks of when they think of books and reading, however these were fantastic for my kids. Reading the instructions exposed them to a whole new vocabulary, especially when it was related to an area they were passionate about, and they were able to follow along with the instructions and create something, or dream of creating something. One of the best we had was The Dangerous Book for Boys another was a book about paper airplanes.

There are other types of books, these are just a few ideas to get you started. Reading doesn’t always have to be about sitting still and reading a story, it can come in different forms. For those with ADHD, a more active approach may be needed, as well as some creativity to find the books based on their interests at the time.

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About Melissa

Melissa Gijsbers started writing when she was in High School during the 1990s, even winning some awards for a short story and a script. For many years, life got in the way of creative writing, however she did start blogging around 2006.

She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons and a pet blue tongue lizard.

Melissa Gijsbers, Author, Speaker & Booklover
Melissa Gijsbers - Author, Speaker & Booklover
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